UKRI’s Future Leaders Fellowships are open for business

Female engineer looking around in wonder at the Aerospace Satellite Manufacturing Facility

The Future Leaders Fellowships (FLFs) are back with round seven, to fund the most promising researchers and innovators from businesses and academia.

FLFs are back with for another round, to fund the most promising researchers and innovators from businesses, universities, and research organisations.

A share of £100 million is available to support early career researchers and innovators who are either:

  • looking to establish or transition to independence
  • developing their own original and ambitious plans within a commercial setting.

We’ve unpacked a few of the common myths about the FLFs to help you decide if the programme is for right you and/or your business.

What are the FLFs?

FLFs offer talented innovators and researchers the opportunity to secure significant levels of funding, pursue world class research and innovation and push their careers to the next level.

Funding is available over four years and there is no maximum or minimum award value. To date, the FLF scheme has funded fellowships from £300,000 to over £2 million, with no preference for lower or higher costed proposals.

Along with universities and research organisations, UK registered businesses of any size and from any sector can apply. The potential benefits are significant; from tackling the biggest challenges in your industry to building effective cross-sector collaborations.

We have seen a round-on-round increase in the number of successful business-led applications to the scheme. To date the FLF programme has supported 41 business-based fellows working across diverse sectors, from social science and heritage through to aerospace and medtech.

Three myths about the FLFs

1. FLFs are just based around funding a project

This scheme is a unique person-centred funding opportunity that will provide a step-change in an individual’s career. Applications need to demonstrate how the research and innovation work is built around the applicant’s potential as a future leader and how the organisation hosting the fellowship will support them.

It is essential that the applicant’s voice comes through loud and clear in their application. Remember the applicant is central to the fellowship and expected to be the driving force behind the proposed innovation or research work.

2. Only established leaders should apply

The scheme is designed to provide early career innovators and researchers with unparalleled access to funding and support which will enable them to fulfil their potential as a future leader. Therefore, we are looking for candidates on the journey to leadership as opposed to those who have are already fully established as a research or innovation leader in their field.

Throughout the assessment process candidates will be required to demonstrate evidence of leadership potential, including their ability to lead and develop a high-performing team and to build:

  • effective partnerships
  • collaborations
  • networks.

However, we do recognise that leadership looks different in different sectors and on different people, so please allow your individual strengths and leadership style to shine through.

3. The proposed research or innovation must focus on a specific topic defined by UKRI

There is no requirement within the FLF scheme to focus the proposed research or innovation in a particular area. The key is to ensure that the research or innovation is challenging and strategically important to your business, your industry and/or wider society. Plans should be original, ambitious and help to fully establish the applicant as a leader in their area.

We welcome and encourage applicants from remits including the arts, humanities and social sciences and the seven technology families, as launched in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s UK Innovation Strategy.

Interested in applying or finding out more?

The next round of the scheme is round seven. Please visit the UKRI funding finder for the timeline and full guidance.

If you are interested in applying to the programme, we encourage you to attend one of the introductory webinars for business applicants. The webinars are running on 20 July at 10:00 and repeated on 21 July at 10:00. Please sign-up to the webinars via SurveyMonkey.

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